Three games into his comeback from a major knee injury, J.K. Dobbins is showing more power, speed, and elusiveness every week.
His signature run against the Bengals came early in the third quarter, when Dobbins was hit in the backfield by defensive lineman Sam Hubbard but refused to go down. After shrugging off Hubbard, Dobbins evaded defensive tackle Josh Tapou and overpowered cornerback Chidobe Awuzie to gain 12 yards.
It's taking a gang to corral Dobbins, who looks ready to break out.
"I really felt he took a huge step forward last week," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "His running style, where he's at. The running play where he broke like three tackles and got us a first down. That's the J.K. Dobbins we're accustomed to seeing, so that was great."
Dobbins wants to show more of that, and he's itching for more touches. He finished with eight carries for 44 yards, but did not play in the fourth quarter of Baltimore's 19-17 victory.
It's a long season, and the Ravens want Dobbins healthy for the long haul. He understands that, but Dobbins is also fierce competitor who thinks he's ready to do more to help the Ravens win.
"It's the organization protecting me and being very cautious, which I really appreciate," Dobbins said. "I could be somewhere where they don't care about me, which they do here. It can be hard as an athlete and the competitor I am. I want to be the best. I just want to keep being patient, keeping working hard. When my number's called, do what I do. Whenever they want to let me out of the cage, it will be the right time."
When the Ravens face the Giants on Sunday, Dobbins will reconnect with running back Saquon Barkley, another gifted running back who leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Barkley also suffered a serious knee injury early in his career, and it took him a long time to return to top form. Barkley and Dobbins texted each over the past few months, and that has helped Dobbins see the big picture.
"He's two years out (from surgery) though," Dobbins said. "I'm trying to do that in one year. It will come. But its good to see him doing what he's been doing. We've always been dueling it out. I played him in college and now we're going to play again. We can both have … wait, no … I can have a good game."
Jason Pierre-Paul 'Getting Everything Down Pat'
Jason Pierre-Paul has made an instant splash as a Raven, and had one sacks and two passes defensed in the win over the Bengals. That's not surprising for the Ravens' free-agent addition. He perhaps didn't expect this many snaps, but he certainly expected to play at a high level now that he's healthy.
"I think I'm progressing pretty well. Still learning the plays, but I'm getting everything down pat," Pierre-Paul said.
Pierre-Paul will go against his former team Sunday, as he spent his first eight seasons with the Giants and won a Super Bowl with them. He played against them three times since then as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, notching 2.5 sacks and 15 tackles.
"Was a Giant and loved it there. Great organization," Pierre-Paul said. "But in a game like this, I'm just playing football and enjoying football."
Pierre-Paul liked seeing fellow outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and rookie David Ojabo return to the practice field this week, but he knows he still needs to carry a heavy load Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
"Everybody has to prove themselves, week in and week out," Pierre-Paul said. "What you do on the field says good things about you."
Ravens Must Be Wary of Daniel Jones' Running
Lamar Jackson won't be the only quarterback looking to make plays with his legs Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Daniel Jones has the third-most rushing yards (230) in the league among quarterbacks, trailing only Jackson (374 yards) and Jalen Hurts (266).
Jones is an adept scrambler who doesn't mind taking off if he can't find an open receiver. However, the Giants also used designed runs for Jones under first-year Head Coach Brian Daboll, who worked with another adept running quarterback in Josh Allen when Daboll was Buffalo's offensive coordinator.
The Ravens are aware they must be wary of Jones' running ability, especially on third down when he wants to keep the chains moving. Between Jones and Barkley, the Giants will be test the Ravens' run defense.
"The quarterback does a really good job running, so they put a lot of pressure on us," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "We have to be very, very stout in the run game and in our gameplan, making sure that [there are] 11 hats to the ball."
Aggressiveness Is One Trait Mike Macdonald Took From Wink Martindale
Ravens Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald spent six years working under now Giants Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale in Baltimore.
Coaches take lessons from everywhere, but there's no doubt that in Sunday's game against the Giants, Macdonald will be deploying some of the same tactics the student learned from the teacher.
"There's so many [lessons]," Macdonald said. "Big takeaways are constant, open communication with the guys – keeping it real, as he likes to say. His aggressive mindset, definitely take that away from him. A lot of positives."